The Dubs play at home
Dublin, 28th December 2010
It was because only a few weeks after The Dubliners’ concert in Wörgl I was showing the symptoms of a withdrawal syndrome that the family suggested I go to another gig; and this started off a sequence of events.
First, feeling very daring, I bought a ticket for the first of the three concerts at Vicar Street, Dublin.
Second, I informed all the friends and co-fans of what I’d done and asked if any of them were going to the same gig. And I found that Polly and her husband, from England, were planning to go too, so I asked if we could meet and share the experience.
Third, I contacted Ružica (another assiduous member of the forum, from Croatia, who wished to go but didn’t know if she would make it to Dublin in time for the gig) and urged her to risk it and buy a ticket. And she did. And soon after, she was actually in Dublin, long before us.
So this magic thing was going to happen – four people from different parts of Europe were to meet in Dublin because of their love of The Dubliners.
A few days before the gig the excitement was high – so was the snow that was falling all over Britain, Ireland and Italy and threatened to spoil it all for us… But all the flights took off and landed safely and on 28th December we were all there, in the same hotel, ready for the Vicar Street experience.
Now, as Barney would say, Vicar Street, being an Irish venue, is located in Thomas Street! We walked there from the hotel, along the streets lit up for Christmas, and arrived there fairly early, in time to have a drink at the bar and to exchange a few words with Eamonn who was there and ploughing his way towards backstage (being frequently stopped by fans) to get ready for the gig.
As can be seen in the Vicar Street DVD, the “pit” of the theatre does not have ordinary seats but small round tables surrounded by four stools each, pub-like. This makes for a much more intimate setting – audience and performers almost on a level, ready to spend some time together and have a bit of craic.
And craic we certainly had. Jim McCann, as Master of Ceremonies, appeared on stage and greeted us warmly, commenting on the harsh weather of a few days before and saying that if he heard anybody singing “White Christmas” again he’d have something to say to them (this later on prompted Seán, when he was introducing his first song, to say “I was going to sing “White Christmas” but I thought better of it…”). And then the show began.
The Dubliners were greeted by a roaring welcome and everybody was happy to see Patsy back and in good form after his forced break. The familiar notes of the “Fermoye Lassies” filled the air - and it was immediately clear that the atmosphere of this concert was going to be different from what you normally get on continental Europe.
I used to think that continental audiences were keen, but this audience was uproarious and its relationship with the band much more direct. Of course everybody knew all the songs by heart and clapped hands in all the right places –
that was only to be expected. But they also shouted questions and requests to The Dubs – sometimes they got an answer, especially from Barney. The Dubs themselves dedicated songs to people, eliciting delighted shouts every time somebody in the audience heard their names mentioned. It must have been a little like in the old days, when the group was still playing in pubs and the audience mingled with them, exchanging jokes, singing along.
And the music was magic, as always. Seán sang among others “The Sick Note”, which he has recently reintroduced in his repertoire; he also gave a beautiful rendition of the sweet “Fáinne Geal An Lae”, to which in the second half Patsy responded with “Raglan Road” to an audience muted and moved. I was delighted to hear “Dicey Reilly”, which I’d never heard live, sung by Patsy with an enthusiastic accompaniment from the audience. From Barney’s dizzy fingers on the banjo emerged reels and hornpipes - Eamonn discovering what they would be as they got along, I’m sure, and deftly finding the right chords every time.
Barney of course gave us songs too. A sea shanty is always a must with him and this time it was “South Australia”. And everybody joined him in “I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me”, which he sang after entertaining us with one of his monologues
John played two of his beautiful instrumentals, “The Marino Waltz” and “St. Patrick’s Cathedral”. He hadn’t played the latter at Vicar Street for some time, he said later, but he’d been asked to play it again. And a good thing too. “St Patrick’s Cathedral” always moves me to tears.
One request that was granted was “The Monto”, which I’d never thought I’d hear live! Patsy said he’d sing it, ok, but he warned us he hadn’t sung it for ages. He needn’t have worried. We enjoyed every bit of it, singing it with him at the top of our voices. And you should have heard quiet John shout the – often omitted – word between “langeroo” and “to you” at the end!
At the end of the act (and of “Molly Malone”) I was hoarse and my hands hurt from clapping. The lads had done it again. A sweeping performance, with everybody giving their best. Seán’s and Patsy’s beautiful voices; Barney’s magic banjo and sometimes wicked humour; Eamonn’s impeccable playing and funny antics onstage; and John always there, like a rock, always smiling, performing perfectly.
Backstage, where we were lucky enough to be admitted, was quite a squeeze. This was Dublin and lots of friends wanted to meet the lads and exchange a few words. They must have been tired, after more than two hours on stage, but they stopped to talk to everybody, always kind and patient. We left at two in the morning, but they were still there.
So here ended the Dublin experience – for me, but not for Polly and her husband Mark, who were staying for the gig of the following night, or for Ružica, who was going to the gig of 30th December. The Dubliners brought us together, The Dubliners, I hope, will do it again. And again.
by Renata Baraldi
Photographs by Renata and Mark & Polly (see our gallery for the
individual copyrights). Pictured above is Polly, the lady on the other
photographs is Renata.